Building Audience Experiences across Devices and Platforms

August 27, 2015

[Photo: Interactive Advertising Bureau CEO Randall Rothenberg speaks ahead of the Digital Advertising Alliance Summit 2015 session “Building Audience Experiences Across Devices and Platforms.” Session participants included left to right: Charles Curran, senior advisor to DAA (moderator); Vivian Chang, Tapad; Martin Gilliard, Experian Marketing Services; Kevin McGowan, Millennial Media; and David Weiner, Oracle.]

Big Idea: New technologies are helping advertisers and publishers address audiences across different devices. As these technologies emerge, industry is looking to the DAA to develop a sensible approach to consumer transparency and control for device linking.

Our Digital Advertising Alliance Summit 2015, held in June in New York, included a conversation with leading advertising technologists that explored emerging marketplace practices and considerations regarding new cross-device and cross-platform technologies – all of which are being developed to facilitate consumer-brand interactions and help improve consumer experiences across the devices they use.

How Cross-Device Enables Better User Experiences

“The goal of this panel is really to bring and raise our understanding of exactly how cross-device linking technology works,” said Chuck Curran, discussion moderator and senior advisor to the DAA. Vivian Chang, vice president and general manager at Tapad, explained her company’s view of “cross device” and the details that it encompasses: “The problem is that you appear as different people, across each one of those devices. … There is a fragmentation of data, of devices, of everything across those various IDs. The whole premise of cross-device is to try to bring all that together to really unify the view for marketers, advertisers, publishers to really create better experiences for consumers, to allow advertisers to have better opportunities to understand where their consumers are in the funnel.” “A lot of the time we talk about the technology itself but when you think about the consumer, that should really be the focus,” said Martin Gilliard, general manager of Americas, Experian Marketing Services. “For a consumer they feel that when I give you this information you should use this to create a meaningful conversation with me. But the technical challenge is that all that information again is fragmented and it’s not connected. In order for that consumer to have that experience and relationship with the brand, there’s a technical component that must combine all those experiences into one,” Gilliard said.

Programmatic Exchanges and Cross-Device Technologies

“How do these kinds of technologies intersect with the programmatic exchange world, particularly for mobile?” Curran asked. Kevin McGowan, vice president of product at Millennial Media, commented that the advertising ecosystem – from ad tech to advertisers to publishers – needs to ensure that transparency and choice is offered in a manner that is explained easily to consumers. “Cross-device is interesting because we don’t think about it as a stand-alone technology,” Tapad’s Vivian Chang said. “Cross-device is more of the layer that sits on top of all technology -- whether or not that’s targeting, analytics, attribution -- even if you move on the other site side, content personalization or website analytics; there’s a ton of ways you can use this data.” David Weiner, vice president of product at Oracle, observed that industry might consider a centralized platform for consumers to understand data collection across different devices, in the same way that the DAA’s existing choice platform offers transparency and a preference option.

Cross-Device Technology is Not Monolithic – Many Paths (and Parties) to User Identification Exist

“The challenges with this are the incredible complexity of these technologies,” Curran said. “There are so many different recipes for attempting to recognize users across devices. One of the hallmarks in the DAA is that we have to understand variations and all the approaches, one-size-fits-all doesn’t come easily, tell us how it works.” Vivian Chang of Tapad gave her company’s perspective, providing a quick overview explaining the differences between probabilistic and deterministic data. “Deterministic means that you have log-in data. Someone logs in on multiple devices and you have a way to verify who that person is. The other method is called probabilistic; it’s not verified data, but it’s inferred data. As you get more and more data points you start to be able to infer relationships between devices,” Chang said. “While deterministic data is highly accurate, there are some problems: shared devices, people don’t logout, etc. but really that data is probably 95-percent accurate. The problem is that it’s not as highly scalable. This is where probabilistic can come to play, it’s interesting because it is highly scalable, you can take any data points as long as it’s collected in a privacy safe way, and infer relationships even if a consumer hasn’t logged in,” Chang said. Martin Gilliard said, “With Experian, we sit in a very different place where our customers are pretty broad, we could work with [the companies on this] panel, and we work with brands. But we took a different approach, instead of providing this as a service to our customers; we realize that the advantage of using the technology and data you already have is the best way to get started. We provide a solution that allows customers to control how and what data they want to be able to use… We work with the partners and a lot of the brands without forcing them to change platforms or leverage data that they don’t own.”

Transparency and the Cross-Device Movement

“How do your companies think about transparency to a household or a group of individuals?” Curran asked. “We need to think about transparency in this way and getting in front of the consumer so that it’s not a shock,” Vivian Chang of Tapad said. Millennial Media’s Kevin McGowan noted that the probabilistic nature of some cross-device linking technology might fall short in meeting a consumer’s 100-percent expectation of a cross-device opt-out choice actually being registered. “I want to talk about why we actually do this,” said Martin Gilliard from Experian. “I know we’re talking about technology and how this all connects, but the reason that we do this is because brands want to take passive connections and make them relationships with potential customers. That’s the entire purpose of why we do this… Over time how this is managed across multiple devices will change. Today I have multiple devices; tomorrow it’s going to be a lot of other things. The important thing for us is education… what does it mean for the consumer experience? How do we enable brands to control how that is being managed for the customer?” “We’ve talked about enhanced notice, in this space of multiple devices and multiple potential touch points, how do you think about what enhanced transparency means for device linking? Curran asked. “I think cross-device is something that is worth calling out specifically,” Chang said. “I don’t think it’s expected… [We need to] have notice that provides education in the same way that IBA is [explained], not in too technical terms, because it can be very technical and confusing. Make it really simple, really easy to digest, so that people know that data is being collected, this is how it could be used, and here’s how you opt out.” Curran concluded the panel discussion by pointing out that the DAA Principles Committee has begun discussions on cross-device linking and emerging marketing practices, so as to fully review the complexity of the emerging technologies and to examine the options for transparency and control. Watch Vivian Chang of Tapad discuss the DAA Principles and Programs.

Watch Martin Gilliard of Experian Marketing Services discuss the DAA Principles and Programs.

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